As of Monday morning, this article is no longer being updated. For continuing coverage on the Christchurch shooting, please visit Vox’s World section.
A 28-year-old man named Brenton Tarrant has been taken into custody and charged with murder. In his first court appearance on Saturday morning, he flashed a white power sign: an upside-down “okay” gesture with his shackled hands. Two other people remain in custody as police try to determine their connection to, or possible involvement in, the attack.
The shooter targeted two mosques in Christchurch: the Al Noor Mosque, where 42 people were killed, and another at the Linwood Mosque, where seven people died. One person died in the hospital, according to police.
Friday is the Muslim holy day, when many practicing Muslims attend worship services at mosques.
Police said they also found two improvised explosive devices attached to one vehicle. One of those devices has been defused, and authorities are working to neutralize the other.
Police are also currently investigating a manifesto, which the 28-year-old suspect allegedly wrote and posted on social media shortly before the shooting began. The rambling document espouses far-right and white nationalistic views, specifically targeting Muslims and immigrants.
The manifesto also praises mass murderers Dylann Roof, who attacked a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, and Anders Breivik, who killed dozens of young people at a summer camp for Norway’s left-leaning political party.
Tarrant is an Australian-born former personal trainer who is believed to have been radicalized during his travels abroad. According to the Independent, Tarrant met with right-wing extremists while taking a trip to Europe in 2017, and also traveled to Pakistan and North Korea. Tarrant had no criminal record prior to Friday’s bloody attack.
The alleged shooter also live-streamed his attack on social media, gruesomely displaying how he entered the mosque and shot worshippers as they struggled to flee.
In a brief press conference Friday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the mass murder a “terrorist attack” and said the perpetrators held “extremist views” that have no place in New Zealand.
“This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” she said earlier. “Many of those affected may be migrants, maybe refugees. ... They are us. ... The perpetrator is not.”
President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences on Friday morning.
My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2019
The identities of the victims have not yet been released.